My name is Brian and I am married to a wonderful woman named Leah. We have two daughters–Salem and Raina–still living at home, two daughters we will see again in Heaven–Brynna and Angel, and three grown daughters–Shelbi, Korie, and Larrah–who live in their own homes now. My family and I live in Abilene, Texas where I am Community Pastor at a local church, Mission Abilene. My wife and I are also business partners in a landscaping company called God’s Care Lawnscapes.
I grew up in a small Texas town as the youngest of three children. My mom and dad owned and operated their own businesses, so from a young age I learned to work hard. Once or twice a year, we would take time off from work and do something fun together as a family; but for the most part, work was priority number one. Faith and spirituality was not a priority. I was taught that I could know “about” God but I didn’t have to live like Him. This I learned from people who did not live themselves what they told me to live. Through most of my childhood, I felt empty and alone so I poured myself into the things of life that made me feel good–a way of life that seemed to work out for good at times; but at other times, not so good. As a teenager, I began making bad choices; and with each poor choice, the consequences became heavier and heavier.
At the age of 22, I found myself laying face down in the dirt, and there in that moment, I gave my heart to Jesus. As I surrendered my life to Him, I told Him that I did not just want to know about Him– I wanted to experience Him. Since then, my life quest has been to connect with God and and with God’s people. Years after my conversion, my dad repeatedly asked me to go to Brazil with him, but each time he asked, I declined. I saw no need to travel halfway around the world to help people in another land while people in my own city needed help. My father persisted. Finally in 2002, he asked once more and I said yes. I have traveled to Brazil every year since.
From the first moment, I fell in love with Brazil–the coffee, the culture, the people, the language, the food, the coffee, the” pudding,” the landscape, and oh–did I say the coffee? I couldn’t imagine missing a journey to Brazil every year. And more recently, I have made the trip twice a year. Parts of my heart still want to go even more often. We began searching for villages that are deeply hidden away in unpopulated areas of the jungle and researched the best way to reach them. Then a local Brazilian missionary and I began an epic adventure, and I have never been the same since. I felt called to a specific large village. I have returned to Primiera Cruz year after year with every visit to Brazil since 2004.
In the beginning, my intent was to save this village in the name of Jesus. I wanted the people of that area to come to know Jesus but I really didn’t make the effort to know them beyond salvation. But God wasn’t quite so willing to let this relationship go at salvation. In 2008, I met Pastor Wellington and Tania, they had come from another state to minister in Primeira Cruz. I knew this friendship would go much deeper even the first time we met. God connected us together in a relationship that has grown and developed with every visit. As God has drawn us closer together, wee have been able to show the church and community what a relationship based on openness, honesty, transparency, and vulnerability actually looks like.
Over the past 18 months, God began to speak to me about water in four different ways. First of all, He led me to create this web site–LivingWaterBrazil. Secondly, I was “randomly” introduced to the CEO of Global Samaritan though now we know that God had arranged and orchestrated that particular meeting. Through that new friendship, I discovered that we could purchase water purification systems for countries in need. Then, right before I left on my mission trip to Brazil in February 2011, my senior pastor at Mission Abilene, Chad Mitchell, told me to focus on water–God’s third prompting. While in Primiera Cruz, I began to talk to Wellington and Tania about water and questioned whether there was really a need for water right there in Primeira Cruz. To me, it seemed silly to ask if a village surrounded by water had a need for water. In fact, Brazil is home to 14% of the world’s freshwater–mainly from the Amazon River–and is host to the planet’s largest wetland–the Pantanal. A country vast in water in need of it just didn’t make sense.
Wellington told me about a dream he had in regard to water in the village of Primeira Cruz. In the dream, Wellington stood in the middle of a large body of water that was crystal clear, asking how to get this water to the people–but the dream ended there. As we talked more, I learned that many people in the village–even Tania–were sick. Why? Because the water from the local water source was contaminated–God’s fourth prompting. The next day, Wellington took me to the CAEMA, the village’s water filtration building. I was so disturbed by what I saw that my own life has changed. As I stood there looking at this dirty, red water filled with iron and rust–molded, I discovered that it was contaminated with life-draining bacteria. I said to myself, “This should not be! No one should have to drink this water. This is not right, and I am going to do something about it!”
In truth, though Brazil is vastly rich in fresh water, the country is in a water crisis because almost 9 million families have no access to pure, drinkable water. In that very moment, standing in a building intended to provide clean, life-giving water, God’s plan for me and this ministry became very clear. Water is the reason that you are reading this story today.